Colorectal Cancer (CRC) comes in third a lot. It’s the third most common cancer in both men and women and also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. But it is also one of the most preventable cancers. Which could make you a winner.
Sure, there’s some ick when it comes to CRC screening. Tests either involve collecting a sample of your poop to analyze it for hidden blood, or a doctor looking up your bottom with a special scope. But testing is worth it!
Because CRC is highly treatable when caught early. In fact, the death rate from CRC has been falling for the past few decades and doctors attribute this to increased screening and the early removal of polyps, which are small growths in the bowel, some of which are highly likely to turn into cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends everybody at “average risk” of CRC start regular screening at age 45. “Average risk” means that you don’t have any family or personal history of CRC or a condition putting you at high risk of CRC; previous radiation to the abdomen; or inflammatory bowel disease. People at higher risk should start screening earlier.
Don’t assume you won’t get CRC because nobody in your family has developed it before. The majority of CRC cases occur by chance, and only 1 in 4 have a genetic or hereditary factor.
Don’t assume you’re too young to get CRC. Young-onset bowel cancer is on the rise and you should always talk to a GP if you have any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:
• A change in your bowel habits that persists
• Blood in your poop or bleeding from your bottom
• Unexplained tiredness, weakness or weight loss
• Abdominal pain, especially if severe.
Don’t assume you can’t prevent CRC. Studies have shown diets high in vegetables, fruits and other plant foods, and low in processed foods and red meat reduce the risk for many diseases, including CRC. Keeping active, not smoking, and limiting your alcohol intake also make you less likely to develop CRC.
You can do a lot to prevent CRC. Stop assuming and get screened!
For more information about colorectal cancer, see here.